Whale Watching and Power-Diving Pelicans

Recently, we had an opportunity to go whale watching off Newport Beach, California to celebrate our birthdays. We weren’t sure if we’d sight whales or not. We were happily surprised when the tour boat cruised straight into a feeding frenzy complete with Dolphins, Pelicans, Terns, and Seagulls. There were animals all around us. Nature at it’s most frenetic pace. I couldn’t ever decide where to point the camera because there was activity at all points of the compass. So I just began shooting. Here’s a tiny fraction of all the pics I got.

Dolphin Escort

Dolphins love to swim along side boats. I don’t know why. Perhaps I should ask a dog why he chases cars. The thinking may be related. The tour guide said these were Common Dolphins. This particular pod were very friendly, and they often swam close to the boat. They even gave us an escort into the feeding frenzy.

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Once in the feeding area, we saw dolphins all around us. The tour guide said there were as many as 500. But these dolphins were very busy eating. The quick cetaceans were hard to photograph because they never breached the surface for long. They weren’t there to pose, they were busy eating lunch. So I set the camera for continuous shooting aimed where I saw dolphins breaching and held down the shutter button.

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Chaotic Activity

Dolphins have many hunting tactics. The one employed on this day involves hunting small fish (Herring, Anchovies, Sardines). The dolphins swim around the fish releasing bubbles. This causes the fish to swim into a tight defensive ball called a “bait ball.” The dolphins do this until the fish are pressed against the water’s surface where there is no escape. At this point, the birds fly in and begin feeding along with the dolphins. The activity is constant and chaotic. Birds and dolphins were everywhere. Constant splashes marked where Pelicans had smashed into the water from vertical dives.

The next three photos are uploaded at full size of 4000px. I present these to show the degree of chaos happening all around us. Please click on them to see a larger image and witness the full effect.

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This isn’t only birds. There are six dolphins in this pic. Can you find them all?
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Not only were animals jostling for food, the whale watchers were jostling for pics. I have more than a few pics of people’s heads and cameras. It was almost like being in a Mosh Pit.
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Power-Diving Pelicans

I know that a number of sea birds dive into the water to catch fish. Somehow, I never realized that Pelicans do this too. On this day I caught these large birds in screaming dives over and over again. Birds smashed into the water constantly. It was an awe-inspiring sight.

Pelicans peeling off from formation and entering a power-dive.
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Two splashes mark where birds already hit. More on the way.
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At the end of the day, I was tired and sunburned. My lens was covered in water droplets and the battery was low. But it was a good day. A Great Day.

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My wife took a ton of pics too. She got pics of a Blue Whale. Stay tuned to her blog for many more whale watching pics at the link below.
http://www.sheywicklundphotos.com/blog/

About EagleAye

I like looking at the serious subjects in the news and seeking the lighter side of the issue. I love satire and spoofs. I see the ridiculous side of things all the time, and my goal is to share that light-hearted view.
This entry was posted in Animals, Nature, Photos and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to Whale Watching and Power-Diving Pelicans

  1. kalabalu says:

    free and at ease ..that is what makes the pictures speak ..and make viewers smile

    Like

  2. Fantastic photos!! You’re so lucky!!

    Like

  3. Shey says:

    Awesome shots! Very enjoyable. 🙂

    Like

  4. Very cool shots. Looks like a great time.

    Like

  5. Ebie says:

    Your photos are a feast to everyone’s eyes! The sea creatures celebrated with both your birthdays!

    Like

    • EagleAye says:

      Hey Ebie! So good to see you here. Yeah, the animals celebrated our birthdays with a fiesta! We had so much fun. Glad to see you here. Hope you come visit my blog again.

      Like

  6. adinparadise says:

    What amazing photos. You and your wife certainly celebrated your birthdays in a memorable way.

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    • EagleAye says:

      Yes, we did. We had a wonderful time. When nature expresses itself in so dramatic a fashion, you can’t help but bring home amazing pics. Thanks so much for your kind thoughts.

      Like

  7. Lyn says:

    What a great excursion! I had a close up look, and in the third picture, right in the middle, there are two pelicans and a seagull and if you look closely, you can actually see the fish in the pelican’s bill.

    Like

    • EagleAye says:

      Yes. There was so much natural drama going is was hard to keep up with all the action. The more I look at these pics, the more I see. Thanks much for the comments.

      Like

  8. nightlake says:

    lovely shots. Amazing how the birds and dolphins almost fight for their share of fish

    Like

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